Category: media coverage
A busy fortnight for End Child Detention Now began with a post by Simon Parker on 16 November in OpenDemocracy – On Her Majesty’s Deceitful Service: The Woolas Case and the Ignoble Lies of the British State.
This was followed by a letter in reply to MP Tom Brake’s defence of the Lib Dem’s role in ‘ending child detention’ – without actually ending it in The Guardian on 18 November.
The Media Show on Wednesday 24 November featured an interview with Clare Sambrook on the ECDN media campaign and winning the Foot and Bevins prizes for investigative journalism. Clare also published a long feature on the history of the End Child Detention Campaign, Children seek the final exit from house of nightmares, in today’s Times (Saturday 27 November) [requires subscription].
The Bevins Prize was founded in memory of Tony Bevins, the first political editor of The Independent, who died in 2001 after a short illness, to recognise outstanding achievement in investigative reporting. For the first time in the history of the prize, a non-newspaper nominee, End Child Detention Now’s Clare Sambrook has made the shortlist for her investigative reports into the detention of children in the immigration system for openDemocracy.net
On hearing news of the announcement, Clare Sambrook said, ‘This is brilliant news for the campaign and a real credit to the doctors who gathered the evidence of harm to children. All I’ve done is report on how the government and civil servants tried to bury the evidence.’
The award of the Rat Up a Drainpipe trophy will be presented at a reception in central London on 9 November. The six judges include last year’s winner, Guardian journalist Paul Lewis for his reports into the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots, journalist Heather Brooke; Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty; Colin Hughes, director of Guardian News & Media; Ken Livingstone and journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr.
Read the full story in the Press Gazzette.
Clare Sambrook’s campaigns page (contains links to the many end child detention stories she has written and generated).
Today the charity Medical Justice launches the most comprehensive report on the harm done to children held in immigration detention. The 84 page ‘State Sponsored Cruelty‘ report is based on the findings of 141 cases involving children detained between 2004 and April 2010.
“We welcome the report from Medical Justice as it highlights again the harmful effect that administrative detention has on the physical and psychological health of children and young people. The coalition government’s promise to end the detention of children for administrative purposes is well received. However, together with Medical Justice, we call on the government to make this pledge a reality, and in particular to do so in a way that does not separate families and that puts the welfare of children first. We encourage the UKBA to embrace their new statutory duty to safeguard children, and ensure that cases are properly reviewed.”
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Royal College of General Practitioners
• Children spent a mean average of 26 days each in immigration detention. One child had spent 166 days in detention, over numerous separate periods, before her third birthday. 48% of the children in this report were born in the UK. The report found that:
• 74 children were psychologically harmed. Symptoms included bed wetting and loss of bowel control, heightened anxiety, and food refusal. 34 children exhibited signs of developmental regression, and six children expressed suicidal ideation either whilst in or after they were detained. Three girls attempted to end their own lives.
• 23 children would not eat food for a period of time. UKBA have admitted that some detainees were being offered food beyond its ‘best before’ date. Some children lost significant amounts of weight.
• 48 children were reported to have witnessed violence, mostly during attempts to remove them from the UK, and 13 were physically harmed as a result of violence in detention.
• 92 children had physical health problems which were exacerbated, or caused by immigration detention, including fever, vomiting, abdominal pains, diarrhoea, musculoskeletal pain, and coughing up blood. 50 of these children were reported to have received inadequate healthcare in detention including failures to recognise medical needs, failures to make appropriate referrals, and delays in treating. Some children were left in severe pain.
• Despite official guidelines that children should be given appropriate protection from infectious diseases such as malaria, malaria, tuberculosis, and yellow fever, there were concerns in 50 cases about failures in this respect. Some children were alleged to have been administered inappropriate and dangerous malarial prophylaxis in attempts to ensure their removal from the country.
• 73 adults were reported to have been suffering to such an extent that it was affecting their ability to care for their children. Many of these parents were assessed by independent doctors who verified injuries consistent with claims of torture. Numerous parents expressed suicidal ideation and were self-harming.
• 38 children were separated from their families, sometimes after parents were put in isolation having voiced concerns about the way their children were being treated. Some children were removed from their parents and taken into care whilst their parents were detained. Some parents were separated from their children for weeks.
Letter to The Guardian about State Sponsored Cruelty
The Refugee Children’s Consortium is a group of 30 NGOs working to ensure the rights and needs of refugee children are promoted and respected in accordance with domestic and international standards. We have long campaigned for an end to the detention of children for immigration purposes and we welcome Medical Justice’s report, State Sponsored Cruelty, launched today, which exposes the physical and psychological damage caused by detaining children.
In May 2010 the government pledged to end the incarceration of children for immigration purposes. Two months later Nick Clegg announced that the facilities for families at Yarl’s Wood would be closed, describing this harmful practice as a moral outrage. It is now September, Yarl’s Wood remains open and children continue to be detained. The UK Border Agency received 342 submissions during its review into the ending of child detention, yet, thus far, there has been no positive change in policy or legislation. Instead, new policies, described as pilot schemes, have now been put in place, such as one to remove families without sufficient notice – which, rather than limiting harm, could damage children even further. It is unacceptable to continue to detain children while alternatives are explored. Given the shocking medical and legal evidence from State Sponsored Cruelty, we urge the government to make good its commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes, and to ensure that the welfare of children is protected at all times.
Chief executive, Refugee Children’s Consortium
A public meeting launching the report will be held in the House of Commons on Thursday 9 September in Committee Room 10 from 4pm-6pm with Julian Huppert MP (Lib Dem) Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour) and Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative). Speakers include:
* Mr. S – detained with his partner and children at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre
* Dr Sarah Wynick – child and adolescent psychiatrist
* Dr Nick Lessof – Consultant Paediatrician, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
* Jon Burnett – Medical Justice, author of ‘State sponsored cruelty’
* UK Borders Agency representative (invited)
Responding to Michael Morpurgo’s film on the detention of children at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Home Office Minister Meg Hillier gave an astonishing interview in which she stated in response to a question from presenter Jo Coburn:
Let’s be clear, nobody wants to see children detained. Certainly I don’t. But we do have an immigration system and we have rules. And when somebody doesn’t have legal right to stay in the country, we ask them to leave voluntarily, and if they don’t we have to have a way of getting them out of the country.
Now with children being detained I’m faced with a number of options.
One is that we just stop it altogether, uhm but then we would have children, I think, with a very high price on them, because we’d actually be saying say if you have a child you will never be detained to be deported and I think that it would raise the risk of child trafficking and put a very high price on a child, so I’d be very reluctant to go down that route. – Meg Hillier, Home Office Minister with special responsibility for children in detention on the Daily Politics, 19 March 2010.
Leaving aside the fact that the Home Office routinely separates children from their parents and that the reason that many women are currently on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood despite having committed no offence is because they have been forcibly separated from their children, Hillier’s comment was clearly intended to create the impression in the mind of the audience that either a) destitute single asylum seekers would place orders for small children to be trafficked half way across the world by criminal gangs with forged identity papers (and no doubt matching the false ‘parents’ DNA and blood group or b) they would somehow borrow or adopt children who had already been trafficked into the country (with neatly forged ID documents etc) for as Meg said a ‘high price’ the minute some empty headed government decided to follow the soft-hearted Swedes, Australians and Canadians in not locking up children in detention centres. Because these governments foolishly gave into the pro-children/pro-human rights lobby, as we all know there are containers full of trafficked children just waiting to be delivered to failed asylum seekers for large sums of money in Toronto, Sydney and Stockholm. Please, please, if Meg is too busy praising the care and compassion of those who administer Serco’s £85 million anti-child trafficking repatriation unit would somebody let Interpol know asap?
For more on the surreal world of ‘Mystic’ Meg and the trafficked children read ECDN coordinator Clare Sambrook’s blog on OpenDemocracy.
Re-posted from the Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel, January 23 2010.
“..the handling of this case as a whole, both prior to and following the bringing of judicial review, fails in several respects to meet the requirements of both the public interest in an efficient immigration system and the protection of individual rights”.
– Judge David Elvin
A FAMILY of asylum seekers are in line to receive tens of thousands of pounds in damages after they were unlawfully detained for three weeks.
A High Court judge yesterday ruled that Fred Nukagem, and his wife and children, were held for too long prior to a planned deportation to Cameroon due to the “procedural ineptitude” of immigration authorities.
Negotiations are now underway over how much should be paid to Mr Nukagem.
And the legal team for the 38-year-old, from Middleport, is also hoping to reach an agreement over a compensation settlement for his wife and three children.
Solicitor Hani Zubeidi, of London-based Fadiga and Co, said: “We are looking at tens of thousands of pounds because, quite frankly, this is a shocking case.”
Mr Nukagem, who says he and his family will be killed for political reasons if they return to Cameroon, claimed asylum after initially arriving in the country in 2003 as a student and later working illegally.
Open letter to Gordon Brown
Nick Clegg 15/12/09
I am writing to urge you to stop the scandal of hundreds of very young children, including toddlers, spending this Christmas locked up behind bars in Immigration Centres in Britain.
One of the best ways to judge the moral compass of a nation is how we treat children – all children.
There is now concrete evidence that the very young children who find themselves locked up even though they’ve done nothing wrong are suffering weight loss, post traumatic stress disorder and long lasting mental distress.
How on earth can your Government justify what is in effect state sponsored cruelty?
Of course we must keep track of adults who are seeking asylum in this country, and deport them where justified. But this can be done through other means.
It is simply indefensible to do so at the cost of the mental and physical wellbeing of very young children.
I would also ask you to lift the paranoid Government secrecy which surrounds the work of the Immigration Centres. Your Government has consistently refused to provide total figures of the number of children detained.
This attempt to cover up such a morally reprehensible practice only makes matters worse.
The British people want us to take a world lead in the way we treat toddlers and children, not to inflict systematic cruelty on them behind a veil of Government secrecy.
I look forward to your urgent reply.
Read the full Daily Mail story by Jason Groves here
We are pleased to pass on this message from Paddington Bear to all our supporters, which the writer Michael Bond OBE (and No10 petition signer) has been kind enough to forward:
“Whenever I hear about children from foreign countries being put into detention centres, I think how lucky I am to be living at number 32 Windsor Gardens with such nice people as Mr. and Mrs. Brown.
Mrs. Bird, who looks after the Browns, says if she had her way she would set the children free and lock up a few politicians in their place to see how they liked it!”
In fact it has been an extraordinary few days for the end child detention campaign with a report of Beverly Naidoo and Karin Littlewood’s visit to Yarl’s Wood to run a reading workshop in the Bedfordshire Times & Citizen. Plus coverage of the barring of St Nicholas on ‘security grounds’ from the premises of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on Radio 4’s Sunday programme and the Daily Telegraph.
There was widespread reporting of the Royal Colleges of Medicine statement against child immigration detention in the media with live interviews on BBC television and radio and extensive reports in The Guardian news pages and comment is free, The Independent and The Times.